Body image, drugs, and alcohol are issues that students deal with in their everyday lives. Although not always addressed, it is a bigger issue than people are led to believe. Advertisements play a major factor in this as they try to lure in those at a young age.
On Wednesday, Sept. 21 Keene State’s Feminist Collective (FEMCO) welcomed Jean Kilbourne to the stage. Kilbourne made her presence felt as she stood in front of the Mabel Brown Room in the Student Center. The author of “Can’t Buy My Love” was here to discuss issues that college students are faced with today.
“Just talking about addictions is extremely important,” co-president of FEMCO Jon Donais said.
The audience was comprised of not only Keene State College students, but residents from the Keene area and other surrounding areas as well.
As the time was approaching 7 p.m., everybody waited for Kilbourne to address the room full of people, wanting to hear what she had to say about the contemporary problems facing society.
“It is good to raise awareness of these issues,” senior Michael Perry said.
The issues that Kilbourne touched upon focus on the problems that society faces on a daily basis. The media plays a big role in this as they begin to target children at a young age.
Advertisements make up most of the media, and that is what teenagers deal with daily.
“You can’t grow up in America and not be influenced by advertisement,” Kilbourne said.
Advertisements are everywhere, and companies will not back down. They try the best they can to have everybody see their product, even if that means affecting the lives of people.
“Who’s more likely to tell the truth, people who want your money or people who care about you?” Kilbourne asked.
But students do not have to agree, or even listen to what the companies are trying to persuade them to do.
“Students, as well as others in the community, have a choice in how they let companies influence their decisions and behaviors,” Tiffany Mathews, coordinator of wellness education, said.
Although advertisements are all over, some groups are more likely to be affected by the ads than others. Because addictions begin at a young age, teens and younger children are the main audiences to whom the companies aim to sell their products.
“Everyone is affected, however the youth are most heavily targeted,” Mathews said.
Cigarette smoking was an issue that Kilbourne mentioned towards the beginning of her presentation.
One slide on her PowerPoint read that the tobacco industry has to get 3,000 children to start smoking every day simply to replace those smokers who die or quit.
“Advertisements influence us whether we like it or not,” Kilbourne said.
There are all different ads out there that try to grab the audience’s attention. Cigarette companies try their best to win over the audience. Once somebody chooses a brand, she or he usually sticks with it for the rest of her or his life.
“Very few smokers switch brands,” Kilbourne said.
A topic that is heavily emphasized on teenagers, mostly girls, is body image. The media these days is very critical of what girls should look like, and there is a certain criteria they hope that teenagers follow.
“Girls these days get the message that you have to be skinny and hot,” Kilbourne said.
Audience members believe that it is important to be informed on what is going on with women when it comes to the media. Kilbourne’s lecture showed how women are affected in everyday life, and people should be aware of what is going on.
“It gives us a better understanding of how women are portrayed in the media,” Perry said.
Senior Angela Vita added, “We learn more about the issues that women face.”
Alcohol was last on the list of topics to be discussed before closing out the lecture with a question and answer session.
Alcohol consumption begins at a young age, and Kilbourne explained that girls today are four times more likely to begin drinking before the age of 16.
The topics that Kilbourne addressed are issues that are faced every day by college students everywhere.
“College students have the chance to learn what they are doing to their bodies are harmful,” junior Brett Bradley said.
“Raise consciousness about these issues to get them thinking in a different way,” Kilbourne said.
But Kilbourne made the point to say that if awareness is spread, there is a possibility that students would start to view the issues differently.
Lindsay Ross can be contacted at email@example.com